The rush to speed up online delivery is getting crazy now. Amazon Prime's next-day option is no longer good enough, it would seem. After the ecommerce giant launched one-hour delivery in central London earlier this year, Argos has upped the ante by launching Fast Track, a same-day delivery service for (almost) the entire country.
That's right. Customers in every UK city and most rural areas will be able to get any of 20,000 Argos products delivered before 10pm the same day, as long as their order is placed before 6pm. Unlike Amazon Prime's £79 annual subscription, Argos will charge just £3.95 per delivery. Although Fast Track isn't totally nationwide (such short delivery times would be virtually impossible in parts of the Scottish Highlands), Argos says it covers 95% of all UK households.
That's not an easy undertaking. Amazon's one-hour service is viable in central London because everybody is so close together, but offering same-day deliveries nationwide isn't so straightforward. Argos is in a decent position to do this because of its massive network of more than 800 stores, where the orders will be dispatched from. While Amazon has just eight (albeit huge) fulfilment centres in the UK, Argos is spread as far and wide as Penzance, Anglesey and even the Outer Hebrides. It's also speeding up its click and collect service, which it says will put 'products in customers’ hands within 60 seconds.'
'As customers increasingly shop from online and mobile shopping channels, they are increasingly sensitive to the speed and cost of obtaining their products,' said Argos chief executive John Walden. 'Argos has always been known for convenience, and is uniquely positioned with its national network of stores and distribution centres to provide customers with the best options to fulfil their digital orders.'
Argos has had to take on an extra 3,300 delivery drivers to offer the service, so it's a decision that won't have been taken lightly. It's hard to imagine £3.95 per delivery will cover all of the costs. But then it doesn't have a lot of choice. Five years ago its demise might have seemed almost inevitable given the rise of Amazon, so it's having to innovate and invest to keep up. How long will it be before someone feels compelled to offer 15-minute delivery?